How to decide to wear a cocktail or long evening dress

First and most important - check the invitation to the event you are going to. Does it specify long dress? Black tie normally means you can wear either full length evening gowns or cocktail. If it’s an event you have never been to before, you may feel happier checking first with other guests who are going so you can be one hundred per cent sure of the dress code. Military balls often have strict dress codes with regard to how much leg you can show so be sure to find out.

Evening gowns tend to come in considerably long lengths. Even in you are tall – say 5ft 7 upwards, you may need to get the dress you choose altered. Allow time and a budget for this. Most alteration services require at least two weeks and they do charge, though most are very reasonable.

Fab Frocks has the details of lots of accomplished alteration businesses in the area. You can organise an appointment directly with these people or we can arrange for you to see them at the shop. Sounds obvious but don’t forget to bring the heels you intend to wear with your dress if you’re having it shortened.

So what length is best for you? Whether you’re tall or short, a full length evening dress can work for you. The key is to make sure the proportions of the dress are right. Are you wearing it or is it wearing you? Does the way it’s shaped make you look taller?

A dress with a train will elongate the back and body shape and can be extremely slimming. (Many dresses with trains now come with a little concealed loop so you can scoop the dress up when you are dancing or getting in and out of a car).

If you’re not so tall, avoid a dress that has lots of detail at the bottom as the chances are it will need to be shortened and the balance of the pattern may look odd if you lose some of the length.

If you’re after a cocktail dress, there are four length choices.

  1. Above the knee, which is really in vogue now
  2. On the knee
  3. Below the knee
  4. Tea length - to be exact, the hem of a true tea-length dress should hit near the bottom of the calf – that is about four inches above the ankle, depending on how long your legs are!

It goes without saying that above-the-knee cocktail dresses demand good legs – and if you have got a pair, flaunt it!

Otherwise, same rules apply. The proportion of a cocktail dress must be balanced on the body. So, if you’re short-waisted – check any detail on the dress is sitting on your waist properly. This will cinch your waist in, make you look slimmer and taller – all without going on a diet!

If you still can’t decide between a long dress and a cocktail dress, how about a high-low, also known as a mullet dress! These are new from America and are short at the front and long at the back.

Shoes To Match

At last there is no need to worry about finding the right colour shoes to go with your new outfit. Our Rainbow Shoe collection is now available to be dyed in any colour and there are handbags available too.


In a rainbow of colours our off-the-shelf handbag collection will be a great addition to your dress. We also have a dyed to match service on handbags meaning you can get a selected range of bags in any colour.


Discover our range of statement necklace and earring sets to compliment your dress

Winner - Best Wedding Attire - Dorset Wedding Awards 2014
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Winner - Best Wedding Attire - Dorset Wedding Awards 2015
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About Fab Frocks

Fab Frocks is a multi award winning special occasion boutique on the south coast. With an extensive selection of styles available, we are one of the leading UK boutiques for all events and occasion outfits.

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How To Shop With Us

Our boutique is based in Bournemouth on the beautiful south coast of the England. We welcome walk-in customers and also offer a full worldwide mail order service. For bridesmaid dresses we ask you to book an apppointment.

Our online boutique offers an extensive selection of our available styles. If you can't find what you need please do call us as additional styles are often available in-store.

Get in Touch

  • Phone:
    01202 765352
  • Email:
    Message Us
  • Address:
    17 Seamoor Road
    Dorset UK
    BH4 9AA